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Coaches Blog

Cold Weather Running Tips

Ahhhh…running in cold weather. Nothing feels quite as invigorating as running in the brisk sunlight and snow on a cold winter day. But what may begin as a nice, quick run can quickly turn dangerous if you're not prepared. Here are a few simple tips to effectively run safe and smart as the weather cools:

Dress In Layers

Start with a base layer made from a moisture-wicking and lightweight technical or wool material. You may need to wear another layer depending on how cold it is. Remember, you can always take off layers as you warm up, but you can't put layers on when you are miles from home during your training run. Finally, be sure to have a good running jacket that's lightweight and breathable.

Pick Your Timing Wisely

I prefer to run in the daylight. I want to be able to see everything that I could possibly trip over. I also want everyone on the road/trail to be able to see me (which is why I also wear the most obnoxiously bright clothing ever). However, I also understand those that want to run but have a schedule that is not conducive to running in daylight.

Be aware that the lighting conditions may be dimmer in winter compared to summer. I recommend using a reliable headlamp with good batteries so you can see what's in front of you and so others can see you coming. I also recommend reflective gear like a vest.

Do a Long Warm Up

Imagine your quadriceps are just like the chicken thighs I have in my freezer right now - cold. In the same way, I need to thaw my chicken before making supper tonight, in order to have a successful winter run, your muscles should be "thawed" as well.

A long warm-up is one way to do this. I like to warm up with a variety of walking, easy running, and various dynamic stretches for a minimum of 10 minutes.

Don't Forget the Essentials

In the cold weather, many athletes have felt the consequences of not putting on sunscreen/sunglasses when snow is on the ground. The white snow reflects sunlight and, therefore, UV rays. No matter how cold it is, sunburn is very possible. Sunscreen and sunglasses are critical even in winter. Another item that frequently is forgotten on cold days is hydration. Even though sweat isn't as apparent and you're not feeling as thirsty, it's still there and being evaporated. It's critical to replace the lost water and electrolytes, so don't forget your water bottle.

Enjoy this season of chilly weather by getting prepared ahead of time! What other essentials have you found that make running more enjoyable during the winter?


Coach Becky Piper is a USA Triathlon Certified Level 1 Triathlon Coach, Paratriathlon Coach, and Cycling Coach. She is currently on her way to Michigan but has made a little stopover in Wisconsin to see friends and family while her husband Sam is serving in the military. Her dog, Gunner, is with her on the long adventure across the country. She is the reigning national champion in the Time Trial and Road Race in women’s C2 Paracycling and is preparing for her debut in the Paralympic Trials, but her true passion is coaching. Coach Becky can be reached at


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